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Holiday wine gift guide 2011

Suggestions for the wine drinkers on your list. Don't forget the wine gift-giving guidelines ("Don't buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like") and Champagne and sparkling wine glossary. More, after the jump:


• $10 wine: Look for almost anything from Sicily, which has yet to disappoint me in almost four years of tasting. Don't worry if you don't recognize the grape names; they get the job done even if they aren't chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.

Champagne that's affordable: There isn't as much this year, thanks to the greed and short-sightedness of the Champagne industry. But Charles de Casanove Brut seems to be available in most of the country for around $40 — which is about the best we're going to do. The Casanove is crisp and clean, with less oak and yeastiness than some of the most popular brands.

Wine books: I've already waxed poetic about George Taber's "A Toast to Bargain Wines" ($28), but also worth looking for is Natalie MacLean's "Unquenchable, a Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines" ($24). It lists best value wines and producers and even "cheapskate" menus featuring the wines. It's as much travel book as wine book, and how can I not approve of a book that devotes an entire chapter to rose?

Gift wine: An exceedingly interesting pinot noir, made by a man who has all but given up making pinot noir — Randall Grahm's Boony Doon 2005 ($40), which the winery didn't know it had. Available on-line only and in very limited supply.

Wine openers: My favorite is the Rialto Epic ($15), a double-hinged waiter's corkscrew. An alternative for people who don't feel comfortable with a waiter's corkscrew is the three-piece Rabbit Wine opener set ($45). I've owned a variety of Rabbit products over the years, and they have held up well.

• Cork kits: The Wine Curmudgeon usually doesn't recommend things like this, but I thought a little frivolity was in order this year. Cork kits let you use all those leftover corks to make bulletin boards, trivets, serving trays and who knows what else.

More about holiday wine gifts:
Holiday gift guide 2010
Expensive wine 28: Robert Mondavi Reserve Chardonnay 2007
Holiday wine in a hurry

  • Jeff

    For the Holidays, I always love to give (and get if I’ve been good enough) a magnum of Cristalino. Everyone’s got to love that!

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